Along with many others I suspect, and before I visited, I wasn’t actually aware the city-state of Singapore is not one single place but made up of more than 60 islands.
Several of the smaller islands can be visited such as Sentosa Island with its Universal Studios theme park, casinos, shopping malls and beaches but it is the main island – Singapore Island or Pulau Ujong in Malay – where most of the action is.
Once part of the British Empire, Singapore is one of the world’s safest big cities and home to one of the world’s busiest ports. Skyscrapers abound in a metropolis which is essentially modern and affluent but the melting pot is liberally seasoned with a tropical climate, legendarily awesome food, 24 hour coffee shops (including Starbucks!) and influences pulled from China, Malaysia, India and its British colonial past.
Something else which this vibrant, understandably popular stop-over destination is known for is the shopping – enough to satisfy even the most retail-addicted. Head to Orchard Road for a concentration of shopping malls – literally mile upon mile of them and typically of the glitzy and designer variety. Once you’ve had your spending fix, head to the Riverside district to soak up some colonial reminders – historic buildings, statues and museums are all here as well as plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs – this is a district where tourists spend much of their time.
When it comes to top picks for hotels I would be hard pressed to choose between Marina Bay’s Mandarin Oriental and the Shangri-La. Both have the best all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts and great pools offering sublime views, an air of tranquillity and a lush tropical garden feel. And speaking of greenery – Singapore has a surprisingly large amount of it with almost 10% of its land given over to parks, reserves and natural spaces. One such lovely oasis is the Gardens by the Bay in Marina Bay which is home to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest – mammoth cooled conservatories of calm.
Essentially, Singapore is a destination which allows you to experience the wonderfully Asian-themed without the unease of stepping too far beyond your comfort zone. English – as one of the four official languages – is spoken almost universally while the whole cosmopolitan vibe is partially woven from the fact that Singapore’s populace includes hordes of ex-pats and workers from around the globe; a 21st century Asian microcosm, best-of-both-worlds kind of place.
To contact Jerry with your travel questions and for itinerary advice, please email him: [email protected]
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